Relationships between pathology and crystal structure in breast calcifications: an in situ X-ray diffraction study in histological sections
npj Breast Cancer
Nature Publishing Group
This is the final version of the article. Available from Nature Publishing Group via the DOI in this record.
Calcifications are not only one of the most important early diagnostic markers of breast cancer, but are also increasingly believed to aggravate the proliferation of cancer cells and invasion of surrounding tissue. Moreover, this influence appears to vary with calcification composition. Despite this, remarkably little is known about the composition and crystal structure of the most common type of breast calcifications, and how this differs between benign and malignant lesions. We sought to determine how the phase composition and crystallographic parameters within calcifications varies with pathology, using synchrotron X-ray diffraction. This is the first time crystallite size and lattice parameters have been measured in breast calcifications, and we found that these both parallel closely the changes in these parameters with age observed in fetal bone. We also discovered that these calcifications contain a small proportion of magnesium whitlockite, and that this proportion increases from benign to in situ to invasive cancer. When combined with other recent evidence on the effect of magnesium on hydroxyapatite precipitation, this suggests a mechanism explaining observations that carbonate levels within breast calcifications are lower in malignant specimens.
We thank STFC and Diamond Light Source for access to beamline I18 (SP12303) that contributed to the results presented here. We also thank Jo Motte and Dr Chandima de Cates of Cheltenham General Hospital for their assistance with preparing tissue samples and the H&E images, respectively.
Vol. 2, Art. No. 16029